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Univ. of West Ga. VP quits after $272K whistleblower firing
By JIM WALLS
A top University of West Georgia official has resigned, two months after his termination of a whistleblower cost taxpayers $272,000.
Michael Ruffner, the school’s vice president of institutional advancement, will step down in February, the Carrollton Times-Georgian reports. He came to West Georgia from Louisiana State University in 2008.
Ruffner had drawn fire since he fired assistant vice president James Naughton in February, shortly after Naughton questioned whether the university’s foundation was skimming too much of donors’ money. The foundation on Ruffner’s recommendation had raised its administrative fee from 1 percent to 3 percent to pay a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm.
Naughton filed suit in May, shortly after the University System’s chief auditor questioned the timing of his dismissal and found that Ruffner had hired the lobbyists without authorization and without competitive bidding.
The university settled the lawsuit Aug. 2, agreeing to pay Naughton $272,000 and stating publicly that he had acted properly and his firing was “unfortunate.” University president Beheruz Sethna signed a reference letter saying Naughton’s firing was “a mistake … that would take back if I could.”
“There is no official connection” between the settlement and Ruffner’s decision to move on, university spokesman Rob Douthit said today.